Stakes have been further raised in what seems set to be a fierce battle to ensure the Heineken European Rugby Cup continues in its present format when an accord expires in 2014.
English and French clubs are challenging the right of Celtic nations and Italy to automatic places and could pull out. Mark McCafferty, chief executive of the English Premiership, has now declared: “We are serious. We cannot carry on as we are. We would go to an Anglo-French competition and if others wanted to join us, fair enough.”